HTC Vive will run on less powerful PCs thanks to Motion Smoothing


  • HTC Vive will replace missing frames with synthetic frames

High-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive need to be connected to powerful PCs to work. For good reason, 3D performance in high definition at a high refresh rate without latency requires a lot of computing power. If the resources are insufficient, it may happen that the frames are missed. The VR headset then fails to display the next image, and instead displays the previous frame. In VR, this phenomenon can be very pleasant.

In 2016, Oculus addressed this problem by launching the ASW or “Asynchronous Spacewarp” feature for the Rift. In this month of October 2018, it is Valve's turn to do the same for its SteamVR platform on which the HTC Vive headset rests.

Like the ASW of Oculus, the “Motion Smoothing” of Steam VR consists of use the previous frames to synthesize the new frames on the fly. Specifically, the software analyzes the previous two frames to determine what the next frame should look like and create a synthetic frame.

If SteamVR detects that an application is missing frames and fails to achieve a 90 FPS refresh rate, Motion Smoothing activates to force the application down to 45 FPS. In parallel, a synthetic weft will be inserted between each real weft in order to achieve 90 FPS. Thus, the computing power to be provided will be reduced for the PC, and the user will not see any difference.

HTC Vive will replace missing frames with synthetic frames

According to Valve, it's even possible to use Motion Smoothing even more aggressively by synthesizing two or three frames for each actual frame in an application. The user can configure the functionality himself according to his needs.

Thanks to this technology, HTC Vive will be able to work on less powerful VR headsets. When the ASW was launched, Oculus had also lowered the minimum specifications required to run the Oculus Rift. It is not known if HTC intends to do the same. At the same time, even the most powerful PCs can take advantage of Motion Smoothing to run the most demanding applications in maximum definition without losing display fluidity.

Available in beta from today, Motion Smoothing is only compatible with NVIDIA graphics cards and computers running Windows 10. AMD cards will be supported soon. The feature is only available for the HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro, and for OpenVR headsets. The Oculus Rift has its own Asynchronous Spacewarp feature, and Windows VR headsets have similar technology called Motion Reprojection.

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